Greenhouse gardening begins!
The pelargoniums and my other plants are on the move into the greenhouse. I thought I would share my process with you as I move plants back indoors.
Scented geraniums (pelargoniums) are fun to collect.
While scented geraniums and zonal geraniums are fun to collect, they are tropical plants meaning they require overwintering somewhere that is warm.
Pelargoniums fit into the classes of zonal, regal, angel, and ivy-leaved types. Then, there are the scented ones.
- Zonal pelargoniums are the regular ones with the big flowers, the ones your grandmother or mother grew. I like to grow them too, but no pelargoniums really like our Oklahoma summers.
- Ivy-leafed types need some shade, especially in Oklahoma.
- Scented pelargoniums usually give you smaller flowers, but they also have scented leaves. They are really tough plants too.
- Royal or Regal pelargoniums are the Martha Washington types with jagged leaves, and they are often variegated. The angel types are miniature versions of Regal pelargoniums.
I own a collection of scented pelargoniums, and they are now ensconced in the greenhouse where they will overwinter. In spring and summer, they sit on some tiered shelves outside on the north side of the garage. I used to have the tiered shelves next to the greenhouse, but the southern exposure was way too hot. Against the garage, they now have a northern exposure, and all of the tropical plants benefited.
I have always grown a few pelargoniums, but I truly got the addiction after I went to the UK to Beth Chatto’s garden and saw her theater of geraniums. I came right home and went straight down the pelargonium rabbit hole.
As I brought each one indoors, I cut it back by at least half its size. You can see the process from the pictures below.
Less foliage, fewer problems
I do this to in fall for less foliage to reduce the risk of botrytis blight and give them less stress from leaf expiration. You can also bring them inside your home and place them in a sunny window. Over winter as there is less light, they will look bad, but just cut them back again in spring.
There’s also an old saw about pulling pelargoniums out of the dirt, hanging them upside down indoors–I can’t imagine where– and then repotting in the spring. It’s not a very good idea. Just treat them like ugly houseplants.
Pelargoniums are commonly called geraniums, but they are actually kind of taxonomic cousins. They are all part of the Geraniaceae plant family. True geraniums are perennial and commonly called cranesbills. They grow a bit like tallish ground covers. True geraniums are not always perennial in Oklahoma because of our abundant sunshine and extreme summer heat. So many perennials fit that description here. After 40-plus years of gardening–33 here–I have two perennial geraniums growing in my Little Cedar Garden, G. sanguineum, bloody cranesbill, and ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium, although I haven’t looked much at ‘Johnson’s Blue’ this summer. It may now be gone. There’s also some controversy about whether ‘Johnson’s Blue’ still exists in the trade, but I’m not going to get into that kerfuffle.
If you’d like to learn more about geraniums and their care, you can listen to our Gardenangelists’ podcast episode about geraniums and pelargoniums.
Also, Carol Michel and I are doing an online webinar open to everyone titled: An Easy Approach to Sensible Social Media Presence: How to Keep Social Media Platforms from Taking Over Your Life and Business. It’s scheduled for November 5, 2020, at 7 pm EST. Carol and I will tell you about our social media detox and how we are still staying in business as garden communicators. Although it is geared toward our work, it would also benefit anyone who wants to online less these days.
Till we talk again, keep your chins up and keep gardening.